The Courthouse was the center of our universe as well as the only "skyscraper" in the county. It was the gathering place, especially on Saturday afternoon, for many citizens and their children.

Around the square in 1950 were three drugstores, three movie theathers, three dry goods stores, two hardware stores, two feed stores, two shoe repair shops, a dime store, a grocery store, a cafe, two banks, a photo studio, several beauty shops, a dentist office, two doctors' offices (over the drug store), lawyers' offices, and more small businesses that came and went.

Due to this high concentration of services and goods, much activity occurred in a very small geographical area.

My earliest memory of The Courthouse was when I would go with my parents on election night to the square. Local and national election results were posted as soon as the polls closed.

There was a huge blackboard with white painted lines to form a spreadsheet-looking chart. A man would stand up on a ladder and write with white chalk on the board. As the vote results came in, he would erase the previous numbers and update the box to the most recent count. People would stand around and visit between updates but when we saw the man emerge from the Courthouse, all would become silent while anticipating the newest set of numbers.

I don't recall hearing my parents say who they wanted to win, and I don't think we were there to support any certain candidate. We were there because it was the only thing to do on Election Night.

My other and more often occurring memory of the square was Saturday afternoons. My mother's best friend and her two children would come to our house then we would all five jump in the car and "go to the square".

What we did when we got to the square still seems a little bizzare to me. The Mom Driver would drive around the square as many times as necessary until she would find the most valuable parking spot on the square. The primo spot was in front of Cox's department store. There were three spots in front of that store but the one on the right was the best because it was in the center of the long row of parking spots and meters.

After we parked, we kids would usually go to the Majestic Theater because it was the cleanest and had the most recent movies. Musicals and cowboy movies were the main fare but we could always count on the short subjects for additional entertainment. Popcorn and a pickle then Thin Mints made for a perfect movie event. Later, an orange sherbet push-up became my favorite.

And what did the moms do while we were at the movies? They held court from their primo parking spot and didn't move until we came out of the theater. Sometimes their old friends who had moved from town to a far away place like Fort Worth or Dallas would be back in town for the weekend. Of course, they came to the square, too, and would stop by The Mom Car and visit. If there was no one to talk to, the moms would gossip about whoever was walking by. Gossip back then was not especially cruel but was just one of their forms of cheap entertainment. The worst I ever heard was something about an outfit some lady was wearing and how "ridiculous" it looked or observations about the way someone walked. Our moms were nice and decent women, and to this day, I don't believe their chatter about others was meant to be mean or cruel.

After the movies we would walk around the square and maybe buy something at the dime store or Cox's.

As I think back now, I realize how a place may change but people still have old habits in their hearts. An example of this is when my parents were in their 80's in 1996.

All of the stores downtown were gone, and all that was left was the Courthouse and a few lawyers offices. There was no longer a central gathering place. On Saturday or Sunday afternoons when they had nothing to do, my mom and dad would go park in the handicapped parking at Wal-Mart and watch the people go in and out. Sad but true.

Everyone's experiences are a variation of everyone else's experiences. Today, people hang out at the malls. My, how I feel sorry for them that they cannot park their cars by their favorite hang-out spots.

John T. Lockhart Drayman Service

John T. Lockhart Drayman Service

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My first teacher in life was Mrs. Smith who had a dance studio on the second floor of the building on the east corner of the square. For a four year old, the steep dark stairs were a scairy climb, but at the top of this wooden stairway was a big room with nothing but full length mirrors on two walls and a row of windows opening to the street.

Mrs. Smith drove weekly from a nearby small town to bring her "fine arts" to our little county seat town. Parents could choose lessons for their children from acrobatics, ballet, tap dancing, or in some cases, all three for their future performers.

The culmination of a year's instruction came in the form of a recital proudly choreographed by Mrs. Smith. It was held in the "huge" auditorium at the local junior college.

Mothers and/or hired local seamstresses created elaborate costumes for the little stars. Make-up consisted of lipstick and a bit of powder. We didn't know what mascara or eye-liner was at that time.

Shirley Temple had been a popular American icon the decade before with her cutesy song and dance routines. A statement often repeated to me by my proud and biased uncle most likely led my mother to believe I would be the next Shirley Temple. Uncle Charles was sure I was destined for Hollywood.

My dance partner and I were made up to look like dancing twins. We practiced long hours to produce perfectly synchronized routines. Pictures of that time are proof that even in the 1950's litle girls were made up to look like mini-showgirls. Recently, there was a controversy about dressing little girls to look like Beyonce. That didn't seem unusual to me since, after all, our Beaver/Cleaver Moms did that to us, too.

One year our recital theme was Wedding of the Painted Doll. Our dance group which included a couple of reluctant boys were dressed in tap-dancing wedding attire.

There were two "older girls" who were Mrs. Smith's star students. At the time I adored and worshipped them because they were "big" but years later I found out one of the two was actually just 3 years older than I. We became friends and played in the same bridge club for twenty years, but strange as it may seem, we rarely, if ever discussed our dance studio days.

One more memory of the square....tap, ballet, and acrobatics but never square-dancing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Drag

Two cemeteries at opposite ends of town provided the final resting places for people who knew each other for many years. Teenagers with the thrill of driving their parents' cars made the run between the cemetery on the West End to the Dairy Queen on the East End. This 2 mile run was known as The Drag.

Responses from my "square" friends

Wow, Carroll and Sherry bring up stores I had forgotten about. Thanks for adding these to our list.

Today, Carroll wrote this:

September 7, 2010 at 5:37pm

Subject: The Ville

I appreciate the time and effort that you are putting in on the blog. I guess that because we’re getting older, the memories are so precious to us. I’ll share a few of my memories of downtown and the 50’s.
Among the stores I remember are J.T. Mayes, Minter’s, Cawyer Drug Store, Burl Lawrence’s Record Shop, Cross Drug Store, Scott’s Cleaners, Barnes 5 and 10, Zero Lock Box and the Ice House. I remember the barber shops; Majestic by the theatre, City Barber Shop, Earl Cole’s Barber Shop located where City Hall is now, and Blackwood’s Shop on Virginia Street.
I also recall the Saturdays on the courthouse square. David’s and my Mother and Daddy usually parked on the square and I think we walked around visiting with the people. I remember one of the policemen, Cecil Smithy, used to buy ice cream cones for David and me. Remember, they didn’t even take their keys out of the cars back then!
One of my memories takes me back to when Daddy sold milk at the Triangle Cheese Plant and Mother bought feed at the Triangle Feed Store. Miles Bradley was one of the store employees. Mother made David and me shirts from the feed sacks.
I hope we can find some photos from that era and times.

Sherry wrote:
"Your blog brought back a lot of memories. I remember how I loved the smell when you walked in Cox's. One of my favorite things to do was to walk from Barham's Feed & Supply, where my Daddy & Aunt Helen worked, to the Rexall Drug Store to get a 5 cent cherry coke. On the way to the drug store, I would always stop, open the door of Cox's and stick my head in and smell the aroma."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Debby wrote:
"OK yall got me....I don't remember Novitts!!!!!!! Where was it located? I would SO love to see some pics of downtown in the 50's. I don't have any. One of the things I remember so much is being in the Tarleton Parade when in Jr. Hi and HS...the day was usually so golden fall was in the air. It was close to Halloween so the stores were all decorated. The streets were just lined with people. I remember Mr. Lumsden, Mrs Zimmerman, Mr. Latham., the Holleys at Majestic Barber Shop, Mr Swindle, Bill Riddick, all the kids that worked at Rexall, Mr. Harding at Western Auto, Baxleys, Mr. Miller, Mr. Gifford, Jo Johnson's Beauty Shop....just a few of the people I remember. AND of course, my mom, Ruth Ewers worked at Penney's. "

David wrote:
"Judy, You have a real talent for spinning a story, really enjoyed the "Hanging on the Square." Been there, done that in my youth. Would really, really be nice if someone posted some pictures of the square in the early 50's. I can still remember the smell of the pile of unwashed denim jeans that Mother bought for our school clothes at Novitt's Dept. Store. "

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Memories of The Ville

Your contributions are welcomed. Please share them with us. No matter what the form or style of writing, please email your stories to
Picture and videos are encourgaged, too.

Cox's with our moms picking out patterns.

Cox's with our moms picking out patterns.
Big McCall's pattern catalogs..our next new dresses.